As travel enthusiasts, we often dream of exploring the world as much as possible: from annual seaside vacations to weekend getaways and holiday trips across Europe or discovering the hidden gems in our own country. To make these frequent travels a reality, we often find ourselves looking for ways to cut costs wherever we can. However, there are certain aspects where trying to save money could actually lead to spending more or even ruining your entire trip. In this article, we’ll break down the seven most common budget travel mistakes that could end up costing you more than you bargained for.
Savings on health
A common oversight or deliberate omission during trip planning is the purchase of travel insurance. When booking a tour or applying for a visa, insurance is often included in the price, or you’ll need to buy it regardless. However, once the visa has been granted, travelers may feel that spending an additional $5-$10 on insurance is unnecessary. In reality, this small investment can save a lot of headaches and expenses in the long run.
However, this common misconception can not only be detrimental to your health, but also quite costly. Imagine falling ill or getting injured while on vacation and needing to visit a local doctor. The prices might shock you: even a basic consultation and examination can set you back a hundred euros, while more intensive treatments or hospital stays can easily climb into the thousands.
We can confidently say that skimping on insurance comes at too high a price. Therefore, it’s much wiser to purchase insurance ahead of time. This way, the insurance company will take care of all the expenses. As a bonus, they’ll also help you find the right doctor or direct you to a reputable hospital.
Savings on flight
Scoring a cheap airfare deal is fantastic. Imagine spending just $500 to jet off to a whole new, unexplored country. What could possibly go wrong?
If you’re prepared for bare-bones travel, low-cost carriers might be for you. These airlines cut costs on everything, from using smaller airports that may be inconveniently located to not offering in-flight meals. Be aware that additional fees can add up quickly: airport check-in (free only online), seat selection, and extra baggage can push the flight price up by 50% or more. So, while low-cost carriers can offer cheap tickets, make sure to factor in all the potential extra costs before booking.
Savings on luggage
In today’s travel landscape, nearly all low-cost tickets come with a catch – a bagless fare. This typically means that only hand luggage weighing up to 10 kg is included, and you’ll have to pay extra for each additional bag or suitcase. While many travelers assume that a backpack will suffice for their trip, it’s worth giving this assumption a second thought.
For instance, imagine you’ve flown with “Victory” airlines to Milan, having paid $200 for your tickets. You’re traveling light with just one backpack, leaving minimal space for souvenirs. Suddenly, you think, “Why should I deprive myself of enjoying the finer things in life?” So, you decide to buy a suitcase at an outlet store and fill it with clothes, parmesan, wine, and olive oil (which, by the way, can’t be carried in your backpack since they’re liquids). You purchase the most affordable suitcase and stock up on local delicacies, only to arrive at the airport and discover that checking your baggage will cost you 45 euros – more than half the price of your ticket! Add in the additional expenses of the suitcase and the wine, and it seems that your efforts to save money on your trip weren’t as economical as you initially thought.
When planning to purchase wine and other local delicacies at Duty-Free shops, keep two things in mind. Firstly, some low-cost airlines do not permit free packages from airport stores, meaning you may have to pay extra to store them as luggage before boarding. Secondly, Duty-Free prices are often significantly higher than those found in supermarkets, making it unlikely that you’ll save much money. Avoid these common pitfalls to ensure a more cost-effective travel experience.
Generally, if you’re not prepared to travel with just one backpack, it’s a good idea to purchase additional luggage allowance online right away. For instance, when flying with “Victory” to Milan, the cost of your flight may increase by $100-$150, but this will include a 20 kg suitcase and the option to choose your seat in the cabin.
Savings on hotel comfort
One of the most prevalent blunders travelers make is opting for a subpar hotel. Accommodations in bustling metropolises can put a dent in your wallet, making it tempting to pick a less expensive alternative. After all, you’re merely catching some Z’s in the hotel room, right?
Yes, it’s true, but not always. Occasionally, when you book a room at a minimal price, you end up in a bedbug-infested place near the train station. This means that wandering around the neighborhood after dark can be quite risky. To make matters worse, the windows face the kitchen of a nearby restaurant, there’s no air conditioning, and the bathroom is covered in mold. The sheets feel damp, the walls seem to be made of paper-thin material, and you can hear every word of your neighbors’ conversations. To top it off, the staff can’t provide any help because they barely understand English. After a couple of restless nights, you’ll find yourself desperately searching for a new hotel and willing to pay any amount – especially since there are no cheaper options – just to escape this nightmare. Sadly, this is a true story.
A noteworthy aspect to consider is hotel breakfasts. Many travelers assume that they can eliminate this expense since it’s often included in the room rate. However, numerous budget hotels provide subpar breakfast options – think cheap supermarket pastries, pre-packaged juice, and bland coffee. As a result, guests may still find themselves needing to dine at a café or purchase groceries for a satisfying morning meal.
Before you book a room, take the time to thoroughly research your hotel options. Start by examining the hotel’s ratings and carefully reading guest reviews, as they often provide crucial information about amenities, such as breakfast offerings. Utilize Google Maps to explore the hotel’s surroundings and gain insight into nearby attractions. Additionally, browse social media platforms using hashtags and geotags to find authentic guest photos. By doing so, you’ll ensure that your final decision is both well-informed and sensible.
Savings on the hotel’s location
A common blunder travelers make is falling for a fantastic deal with a high rating and stunning photos, only to realize that the city center is quite a distance away – perhaps a 30-minute journey on public transport or a 90-minute walk. Though you may be tempted to take a leisurely stroll, remember that indulging in the local cuisine might not make the trek any more enjoyable!
Upon arrival, you may find that your optimistic estimate of a half-hour commute is far from reality due to an inconvenient bus schedule. Walking isn’t an option either, as you can’t cross the freeway on foot. Spending forty minutes each way adds up to over an hour of valuable vacation time wasted every day. And heaven forbid you forget something essential in your hotel room and only realize it when you’re already en route to your destination. In such cases, it’s often easier to simply purchase a replacement phone charger or umbrella rather than wasting another precious hour to retrieve it.
Consequently, by the end of your vacation, you’re left with numerous unexpected expenses, frayed nerves, and memories not of breathtaking sights, but of crowded commuter buses. Transportation in Europe is pricier than in Russia: a single journey, even with a weekly pass, can set you back 1-2 euros. Factor in these additional costs and ask yourself: is it worth staying here? Perhaps, a charming apartment near the subway won’t be as costly as you think?
Expenses in place
A common oversight many travelers make is failing to research the cost of living at their chosen destination before purchasing tickets and booking accommodations. For instance, you may find a great deal on a flight to Copenhagen for $150, only to later discover that even the most modest hotel charges a minimum of $80 per night, with a full dinner at a café costing just as much. Switzerland offers a similar scenario, where it’s conveniently accessible from neighboring Italy but can quickly have you longing for a return trip after a simple supermarket visit leaves you $20 poorer for just a couple of sandwiches and a bottle of water.
When planning your travels, remember that airfare can sometimes account for as little as 10% of the total trip cost. Don’t skimp on research; be sure to investigate accommodation and food prices before making any bookings. This will ensure you’re making the most informed choices for your budget and overall experience.
Traveling by car to Europe
Taking a road trip may appear to be a cost-effective option for travelers looking to save on expensive airfare. With the convenience of sleeping in your car if needed, and the added bonus of being able to pack and transport more belongings (even those from abroad), it’s tempting to consider this mode of travel. However, there are several common mistakes to avoid if you want to make the most of your budget-friendly journey.
However, keep in mind the expenses associated with driving: gasoline (which is pricey in Europe), car insurance, toll roads, parking fees, and the inevitable purchases at gas stations (such as water, coffee, a bag of chips, and chocolate). When you tally up these costs, the total is far from insignificant.
For instance, filling up your tank in Europe can set you back $80. Opting for indoor protected parking in the city center will likely cost around $25 per day. Though you can leave your car on the street, it’s crucial to pay attention to markings and signs, as improper parking fines can soar to several hundred euros.
Beware of fines while traveling. Unbuckled seatbelts, running red lights, speeding, and committing the all-too-common tourist mistake in Italy – entering historical centers – can all result in hefty penalties. Don’t let these blunders take a toll on your wallet.
Moreover, don’t count on bringing your own food supply from home when traveling to Europe. Regulations prohibit the import of food into European countries, and your stash might be confiscated at customs.
Naturally, the cost of a road trip depends on various factors, such as the number of passengers, the type of vehicle (a car is typically cheaper than an SUV), and the countries being visited (Eastern Europe tends to be more affordable than Scandinavia). Before embarking on your journey, it’s crucial to calculate all potential expenses and add a few hundred euros as a buffer for unexpected costs. Ultimately, ask yourself: is this the most cost-effective option?
Then go ahead!